31 Oct 2017

Digital success means developing a culture club

Organisations that fail to affect significant ‘cultural’ change will fail to achieve a meaningful return on their IT and marketing investments. This means genuine ‘buy-in’ from senior management, and a commitment to top-down, root-and-branch change.

With so much exciting new technology emerging in the digital space, it’s easy to get lost and fail to see the forest for the trees.

In addition to the constant – dire warnings ‘businesses that fail to embrace digital will shrivel and die’, organisations have never had so much choice when it comes to new cloud platforms, mobile devices and apps, all purporting to offer some sort of panacea to insulate them from the future.

But if 2017 is anything to go by, the conversation has shifted away from technology, to be more about organisational readiness, and need to affect genuine change in how people work and think. That’s where the hard work starts.

For many organisations, things have simply been done a certain way for years, even decades. And for individuals who have been successful in the old world, change feels especially uncomfortable. Often with good reason too, given the bewildering array of options and opinions about how and where to start.

Looking inwards

The prevailing wisdom now is that the journey must begin from within.

Every company is different, and so digital transformation needs to be approached according to what a company is trying to achieve. Who are its customers and what role could technology play in helping staff to be better at their jobs and feel a deeper sense of fulfillment?

Real digital transformation can’t occur unless the entire organisation is involved in the process together.

As outlined in the previous blog in this series, the starling results of a recent Microsoft survey asked front-line, or customer-facing, workers about their attitudes and experiences around digital technologies.

This Microsoft survey found that despite a large proportion of front-line staff saying they’d welcome being involved in digital projects taking place at work, very few were being included.

It’s a classic example of where traditional modes of business and communications are impeding digital transformation, which needs to be approached more holistically and to be more inclusive.

And it’s not only management that is guilty of this.

Often those people within an organisation charged with driving innovation can become isolated, even elitist to the point where the investment and deployment of digital technologies becomes an end unto itself, divorced from the main goal of improving staff performance, customer engagement, experiences and sales.

As Jacques Bughin, director of the McKinsey Global Institute notes in a blog post from earlier this year:

“We found that while a strong digital strategy is critical, you need a culture conducive to its execution.

In other words, the goal posts have shifted from being about the need for organisations to embrace digital technologies, especially the cloud and mobile apps and devices, to now being about the need for genuine transformation.

No longer is it enough for companies to have skin in the digital game. Digital itself has become the game.

As Gartner analyst Jenny Beresford recently stated in the US business media:

“The whole world has been changed … It’s not just that every business needs to be digital, but the way that we operate has [been] changed by digitisation,”

By cultivating a business culture that is curious and understands the value of digital transformation, it follows then that subsequent digital implementations will be easier to deploy, and deliver a clearer, more immediate return on their technology investment.

As McKinsey’s Bughin notes, we discovered that “roughly 30 percent of the variance in performance among companies in the same industry related to their ability to develop and sustain a culture that embraced digital objectives”.

In contrast, organisations that focus too heavily on technology without regard to how people are impacted by it, will always be back-peddling trying to prove the business case for every deployment.

To discover how emerging technologies in the digital space can support your business goals book a time to chat to one of the Brennan IT consultants today at 1300 500 000.

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